Archive for the ‘Kindle Convert’ Category

My first test of Kindle Convert

February 9, 2015

My first test of Kindle Convert

I wanted to do a quick test of

Kindle Convert (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Amazon’s recently released book digitizing software.

I should mention first that I have experience digitizing books…I did it with public domain books when I was working with a non-profit.

It was quite laborious…the scanning itself can take some time, and then there is the Optical Character Recognition (OCR) part, where the software reads the scan and tries to convert it to searchable text.

I say “tries” because even the best software I used was imperfect.

So, I think I can judge the quality of the work reasonably well.

I used my

piQx Xcanex Portable Book and Document Scanner (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

which is a pretty sophisticated and not outrageously expensive scanner.

I just wanted to do a simple test, so I scanned about ten pages of a hardback book.

I was anxious to test a couple of things, and I wanted to try to do it with as little work as possible. 🙂

I scanned the book into jpgs (a type of image file) and started the “project” in the Kindle Convert software.

I basically just clicked through the options. There were a lot of choices to crop images, change orientation, check the content, all that sort of thing.

I would say that I took about five minutes (after creating the scans), just clicking through the tabs and then uploading it to Amazon.

That last part is important…the Kindle friendly file is available to me through my Kindle account, like a book would be that I bought through the Kindle store.

It would not be easy for me to use this software to create a file and distribute it to people not on the account.

So, how did it do?

It took about ten minutes for the scanned file to show up on my

Kindle Fire HDX 7 (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

That’s not too bad, although it does mean that a 200 page book might take 200 minutes…over three hours. That might not be the case…the ten minutes may not have all been page per page time. There may be some processes that come at the beginning and end of that.

How was the scan?

Well, first, I’d better not judge this book by its cover, because it really messed up the cover! It only took a tiny section of the image.

That’s something I’m sure I could have adjusted if I’d taken the time to do that…maybe next time.

Pages of the book were pretty much perfect, which is quite impressive.

On other pages, there might be small errors: “bcast” instead of “beast”, for example. Again, I could have corrected that if I’d taken the time…I didn’t even run a spellcheck. Testing the spellcheck afterwards (you can go back in and edit the project in the software) it would have taken that long to adjust.

One page had a really failed section, with weird large characters that didn’t make words. I checked the page in the original hardback, and couldn’t see anything that caused it.

My guess? A bad scan…I may not have had the page flat enough or it might have moved.

Overall, I was quite impressed with the OCR! When it worked, it worked as well as any I’ve used. When it didn’t…well, my guess it that was more of an “operator error”, something I did (again, I did it with a minimal amount of care, to test it). The error rate, outside of the completely failed page, was quite low…certainly, I’d guess under 1%.

Here was the best part:

It worked with text-to-speech!

I expected that it would, but it was great to have the confirmation.

Text-to-speech is software which will read a book out loud to you. It can be blocked by a publisher (some big publishers do that with some of their books), and the software can’t pick words out of an image (which can be the case with graphic novels and some PDFs).  This was just like any other book I would have gotten from the Kindle store…same controls, including speed.

I could also do lookup. That included Wikipedia and the dictionary…again, just like purchased books.

I could add notes and bookmarks, and had many of the same text setting options (size, color, spacing…even translation). What I didn’t have was the ability to choose a different font.

I would say that the software more than met my expectations.

I’m going to test it further (including taking pictures with my phone, rather than using the scanner), and will report back. I also have some magazines I want to try, and some personal items. For example, I have a scrapbook of pictures and newspaper articles which might make a nice book. 🙂

If you have any specific questions about Kindle Convert, feel free to let me know by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Amazon releases book digitizing software

February 3, 2015

Amazon releases book digitizing software

I will update this later, because I am currently just on my phone.

Note: this post has now been updated.

Amazon has just released software intended to digitize your books and other items so that they are available for the Kindle. This is a major move. The software is currently about $20

Kindle Convert (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

I don’t know how they are addressing possible copyright issues, or if they are just thinking it is okay if it is for personal use. I will research more later today.

Update: I’ve had a chance to look at this now…and I’ve purchased it. I’ve also been able to look at the User’s Guide.

It’s both significant and intriguing…and likely to be misunderstood in two directions.

On the one hand, there will be people who buy Kindle Convert thinking it is going to be an easy way to take their paperbooks and convert them into Kindle books.

It’s not.

It’s going to take quite a bit of time and effort.

I’ve digitized books before, in my work with a non-profit. It’s much easier now than it used to be, but if you aren’t willing to tear your books apart (so you can scan the pieces more easily), you still have to at least turn the pages.

It says this will work with inexpensive scanners, and with a DPI (Dots Per Inch) requirement of as low as 300 (and up to 600, I think), that’s going to be true.

In my case, I’ll have the advantage of using my Xcanex:

The Xcanex: a better book digitizer

which will speed things up.

Still, a single book project has seven steps…and number six is “Editing the text and formatting of your book”…that could be a doozy.

There will be a somewhat steep learning curve, I would guess, and some people may give up.

This will probably not be a better choice for most people than buying the e-book, if one exists in the Kindle store and is available in your country (Kindle Convert is only currently available in the USA, by the way).

For hobbyists, it will be fun.

For me, I have books that simply are unlikely to become available…and that I would like to preserve.

This can also be good for non-books: I’m tempted to take a “scrapbook” or travel photos I have and turn them into a book this way.

Misconception one: this will be easy.

Misconception two: it won’t be worth it.

That’s the side you’ll hear from tech writers, who will cleverly point out to you how hard this will be.

If they’ve never digitized a book, though, they’ll miss the advantages this is going to give you.

This is going to go into your Amazon account (that’s important…I’ll address that shortly).

A converted book will act largely like a book you might purchase…that includes Whispersync (reading progress synchronization between devices), increable text size and dictionary look-up.

I don’t see them saying it anywhere, but I assume text-to-speech will work in the converted version on devices that can do it. For me, that would be huge! There are books which I would love to hear in the car.

I would assess this this way: it’s going to be a chore to digitize a book with Kindle Convert, but in many cases, it will be worth it.

Now, as to that copyright question…

This part is especially interesting to me.

It has not been clear to me that the purchaser of a book which is under copyright protection has the legal right to scan and digitize that book, even for their own commercial use.

It seemed logical that they would (like timeshifting with a DVR), but I haven’t seen explicit case law supporting that.

I have to assume that Amazon has checked this out thoroughly, and is comfortable with it being okay.

They make it quite clear: you can not share the books with people outside of your account (unless you share a physical device with them…and I’m not sure if Family Library would work yet), and you can not do this for commercial purposes (you can’t plan to sell the scan).

Another important point:

I would assume that if you leave Amazon, you no longer have access to the Cloud version of the book…and that you can’t download it and take it with you easily.

For the small group of people who will do this, that will really bind them to Amazon.

If I digitize a non-public domain book with this, I’m reeeeally not going to want to leave Amazon and lose access to that book!

I would also expect we may get a condemnatory statement from the Authors Guild in the next day or two.

You might also be wondering why Amazon would do this, possibly losing a sale from someone converting a paper copy.

As I’ve mentioned before, stores look at the population of sales, customers look at individual sales.

Let’s say you convert a book instead of paying $9.99 for it.

First, you paid $19.99 (at time of writing…looks like it will cost $49.99 soon) for the software. Amazon might make $3 for that $9.99 book, so they are doing okay with that.

Second, you are committed more and more to Amazon…which means you might join Prime, and then they can really make money from all the extra purchases you make.

I’ll let you know how good the OCR (Optical Character Recognition) is after I’ve done my first book, but I expect there will be a lot of buzz about this over the next month or so.

What do you think? Are you going to buy this? Would you buy a scanner just to use with it? What books would you want to digitize that you own? It’s going to preserve things like autographs and inscriptions (presumably as images)…any good stories about a book with annotations like that in your collection? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

Bonus story: if you like to try to predict the Oscars, you might enjoy participating in my

2015 BOPMadness (Bufo’s Oscar Prediction Madness)

No charge, and we are usually pretty accurate as a group…the more people who play, the more fun it is for me, but up to you.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.


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